– Kiley Bell, Arts & Entertainment Editor
If you’re not accustomed to watching films with subtitles or even films based on a country whose historical background you aren’t entirely familiar with, then foreign films may be difficult for you to enjoy. To slowly ease your way into the benefits of films outside North America, here is a list of some very recent foreign films that I promise are in colour, have excellent plots, and may even have a semi-recognizable actor or two.
Coco Avant Chanel (2009)
France’s sweetheart, actress Audrey Tautou, plays the role of clothing designer Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel before she becomes famous (hence the title “Coco Before Chanel”). The film is less focused on Chanel’s apparel empire and more focused on the romantic, and at times quite rough, life of Gabrielle. This film was picked to show that even though a film may require reading text off the screen, it doesn’t make the story any less emotional- especially for a hopeless romantic. Very few American films can show such a realistic portrayal of love without a hint of sappiness or a feeling of skepticism.
As If I Am Not There (2010)
Premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival two Septembers ago, As If I Am Not There is the story of a young schoolteacher in Sarajevo that is abducted along with her whole village by Serbian soldiers during the Bosnian war of the 1990s. As a much heavier film, the plot explores the horrendous treatment of innocent citizens through slavery, torture, rape, and even murder. To Americanize this movie a little bit for those still not convinced, As If I Am Not There is now an official 2012 Oscar submission for the Foreign Language category. Although the film is set in Bosnia and spoken in the language, the film was submitted Ireland since the production company as well as the director (Juanita Wilson) are both Irish.
Another particularly difficult film to watch in terms of human injustice is Hunger. This film stars Michael Fassbender as Irish republican Bobby Sands who leads inmates of a prison in Northern Ireland on a hunger strike. The film is based on the real life events of the 1981 IRA hunger strike, which led a lot of people to starve to death for their beliefs. If Hunger doesn’t have you awkwardly squirming in your seat by the end of the film, then I suggest you try going on a hunger strike to see how difficult it truly must have been.